While a knock-off designer
handbag probably won’t kill
you, there are plenty of counterfeit
products that may pose a significant
risk to health and safety.
Sporting equipment: Cases of dodgy golf clubs,
where the head has fallen off,
and tennis rackets that contain
lead paint number among those
that have been reported to the
Counterfeit Alert Network,
run by the Australian Sporting
Fake electricals can contain inferior
components that can be very dangerous.
UK consumer group Which? issued
a warning about this issue in
2011. It found fake Nintendo
Wiis with bad wiring, and
fake phones and laptops
which were at risk
Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics:
Many pharmaceuticals sold online are unregulated and may be produced
in unsanitary conditions. During an international crackdown last year,
Australian Customs seized 37,000 pills in one week that had
been purchased online and had the potential to be counterfeit.
Counterfeit perfumes can cause skin
allergies, burn the skin, trigger respiratory
problems and stain clothes.
Some fakes simply may not do what they claim. For example, sunglasses could have UV claims that are irrelevant, or toothpaste may not contain an active ingredient.
Extent of the problem
The value of counterfeit products
intercepted in Australia reached an
all-time high last year, with the
Australian Customs and
Border Protection Service
seizing more than 700,000
counterfeit products with
a total estimated value
of $48.5m (based on the
equivalent value of genuine
goods). Globally, counterfeits are estimated to account for about 2% of world trade, amounting to $272bn, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Meanwhile, the International Chamber of Commerce has higher estimates, saying the global counterfeit trades accounts for five to seven per cent of world trade and is worth around $600bn.
Customs’ figures show the majority
of fake products entering Australia
come from South-East Asia. Experts
we spoke to see China as the hub, with
67% of counterfeit seizures globally
between 2008 and 2010 having been
manufactured there, according to the
World Customs Organization.
Australians have taken to online
shopping with a vengeance and our
fervour shows no sign of abating. While there are many benefits to online shopping,
consumers are more exposed to the
risks of counterfeit products.
based on US and European consumers
found that as many as one in five people
looking for a bargain online were duped
into buying counterfeit products.
According to Phill Arnold, the rise
in online shopping is responsible for
the increase in counterfeits. “Things
have escalated in recent years due
entirely to the internet,” he says.